Stephen Birch Interview
Former light heavyweight boxer and 2 fight professional, Stephen Birch, has lifted the lid on his career, why he chose to pursue boxing, life after retirement, and talks about his new boxing club, JC Boxing Club.
In this interview Steven Matthews, founder of Sports Involve, spoke to Stephen about his influences, what got him into boxing, his amateur and professional career, and the future of his boxing club. He shared with us his experiences from a young age.
Early career and influences
“My dad got me into boxing to encourage me to look after myself, he took me when I was 10, but the coach, John Chisnall said that it was too early for me to start, so my dad took me back when I was 11. I stayed with St. Helens town from start to finish, 1993-2005, because it was brilliant. John was a brilliant coach and he couldn’t do enough for his boxers.”
When asked about his first fights and what they were like, Stephen said, “I lost my first 3 contests, so I didn’t have the best of starts. I was a weak kid,” but Stephen then explained how he progressed when he got older “At age 15, I won the NABC national title at 57kg and I was hooked from then. I got an England school vest when I was 16 when I fought against someone from Denmark and won on points.”
When asked about the other boxers in his gym, Stephen told us “We had some top boxers in our gym including Martin Murray, Craig Lyon, Gary Davies, and Ronnie Mercer. There was no competition in the gym and me, Martin, and Gary were all looked after and treated equally.”
Contests and further career
From 1999-2003, Stephen received a range of awards, including the best junior boxer in England. We asked Stephen how he felt receiving these honours “I was so happy receiving the best junior boxer in England, and I think I was ranked top 20 internationally. I also gained 3 medals out of the 3 majors that I attended. I received a bronze medal at the European junior’s tournament 1999, and a silver medal at the Commonwealth senior tournament. But I did lose my first contest at the World Championships in 2003. The silver medal in the Commonwealth senior tournament propelled me to go further, but my poor discipline let me down from there.”
Watch Stephens Commonwealth fight below:
Stephen even received funding from the National Lottery from 2000-2003, at which time he trained full time. Stephen’s amateur career was cut short because of a lack of commitment, but this was also the start of his professional career in the end. Stephen told us, “I stopped amateur boxing in 2005. I was failing to commit 100% to the sport.”
Leaving amateur boxing helped Stephen develop into his professional career, and he took the opportunity by the scruff of the neck with his first fight in 2005, although things did not go as planned during or after the fight. “I lost my debut because I didn’t train properly. As I mentioned my discipline wasn’t great, which resulted in me going to prison on a 2-year sentence. After that, I got my head down and got back into the professional game with a first-round KO win, but I retired shortly after.”
The future of JC’s Boxing club
Stephen recently opened up his own boxing gym called JC Boxing club. We asked Stephen why he chose to open this club after so many years away from the sport. He explained to us “I regained my love for the sport and I have now found my passion, which is coaching children and steering them in the right direction in life,”
“I named my club JC’s Boxing club after my late coach Jake Chisnall who passed away in 2005.”
Talking about the coaches in his gym, Stephen said, “We have 6 coaches in the gym, they are Chris Firth, Gary Ormrod, Gary Talbot, Shane Booth, Melissa Kenler and myself, but we do also have 2 coaches awaiting level ones; Daniel Abel and Mike Neal.”
“We have around 35 kids attending the beginner’s classes at 4:45 to 5:30 PM, that class is for 7 – 16-year olds. We also have around 40 carded kids attending classes from 5:30 – 7:00 PM. All of our classes run from Monday to Friday.”
Stephen has a son that trains at the gym, so we asked how his relationship has developed with him and what age he started training. Stephen explained, “He started the gym around 14 months after it opened when he was 11. At first, he simply didn’t want to box, but then when me and his mum were on holiday getting married, he decided he wanted to give it a go when we got home, and he hasn’t looked back since. He has had 36 fights and won 20, but like me, he had a poor start and is now in good form.”
The JC Boxing club has been developing well, but we wanted to know if they had any representatives in national tournaments yet, and if so, how they got on. Stephen told us, “Within the first 3 years of the gym opening, we had a national champion in Jasmine Davies, but that is our only champion so far.”
Finally, we asked Stephen the long and short-term goals for the JC Boxing club, he told us “the short-term goals for the club is to continue building the boxers and keeping them on track. The long-term goals – I want Olympians!”
If Stephens story has inspired you to get into combat sports, why not check out our club directory to find a combat sports club near you, or if you are interested in other interviews or blogs, visit our blog page where we have interviews with the likes of Carly Skelly and Shaun Farmer. If you would like to find out more about Sports Involve, please visit our website.